Oliver Munday for the New York Times
32 -- the average rate of higher consumption in the first world, when compared to the developing world. The average rate at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world.
And, according to Jared Diamond's piece in the New York Times, "that factor of 32 has big consequences. Today, there are more than 6.5 billion people, and that number may grow to around 9 billion within this half-century. Several decades ago, many people considered rising population to be the main challenge facing humanity. Now we realize that it matters only insofar as people consume and produce."So, as the world's population continues to grow at an exponential rate, it isn't so much all the people that are necessarily the problem, but their consumption patterns. To wit: Kenya's population -- about 30 million and growing fast -- might be a problem, but their consumption factor is 1, compared to the aforementioned 32 here in the States. As such, "A real problem for the world is that each of us 300 million Americans consumes as much as 32 Kenyans. With 10 times the population, the United States consumes 320 times more resources than Kenya does."
As you can surmise, were the rest of the world, perhaps most especially a country like China, catch up to our consumption patterns (currently, per capita consumption in China is about 11 times lower than the US) it wouldn't be pretty. So, please, repeat after TreeHugger: less is more, less is more ...